Amazing Au Pairs, Candidates

Why You Should Host a Younger Au Pair

Looking for the Perfect Addition for Your Family? Why You Should Host a Younger Au Pair

Ana Babcinetchi (3)Hosting an au pair is a fantastic childcare option for many families because it is more cost-efficient than daycare and allows host families to participate in a cultural exchange with a young man or woman from another country. Whether you have hosted an au pair previously or are new to the program, you may be wondering what qualities would work best for your family in an au pair candidate. Younger au pairs are a great option for families who would like to add a valuable new member to their household, who can act as both a mother’s helper and a big brother or sister to the children. Hosting a younger au pair is a great option for many host families, and here’s why:

Younger au pairs are energetic: One of the best qualities that younger au pairs possess is great energy and excitement. They enjoy caring for children of all ages and have the stamina to keep up with busy schedules, sports activities, tidying up, and playing games.

 

Age does not reflect maturity: Although younger au pairs may seem inexperienced by American standards, most of the younger candidates who apply for the program have extensive hours from a variety of previous childcare experiences. Most of the candidates also come from large families and have spent years caring for their younger siblings and cousins. They may only be 18 or 19-years old, but they have developed great maturity from their work and personal experience. The important thing to remember is that an 18-year-old au pair candidate from abroad, is quite different than an 18-year-old American high school graduate.

They are coachable: Since younger candidates are still growing and learning themselves, they have a willingness to experience new things and learn about childcare from their host family. Younger au pairs are still forming how they best relate to children and thus are more willing to accept advice and tips from their host parents.

Although hosting a younger au pair might not be your first choice as a host family, it may very well turn out to be your best choice. One of our current host families, the Notos, explained that age was not a deciding factor at all and they encourage new host families to look for an au pair whose personality and interests best matched with their own family instead. They went on to say that “they would recommend a younger au pair a million percent, because their younger au pair became like a daughter to them, was always excited and willing to play with the kids, and faced every new challenge with determination.”

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If you would like to learn more about our available younger au pair candidates or have questions about the au pair program, contact us today!

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Cultural Journey – Jamaica visit

jamaica_stream_water_221749Last month I had the amazing opportunity to visit our offices in the country of Jamaica. This was the first time that I had been to Jamaica, so I took everything in as I arrived. After a layover in Miami, I was on my way and landed on the ground in pitch black. I headed through immigration, customs and then waiting for my ride to my hotel, I confirmed with our offices our meeting for the next day. I was so excited to see the island and to meet with all of our prospective au pairs at the office in Mandeville.

The next morning, I had a driver pick me up to drive me from Montego Bay to Mandeville. The drive was beautiful and I feel as though I was able to see the real Jamaica as I rode in the passenger seat (on the left side of the car) through the windy, hilly roads which were not always paved. Jamaica is very tropical and when the big storms surge through, they raise havoc on the road, creating very large potholes. As the country is full of poverty, you often see individuals filling in the holes in the road in hopes of making some extra money for doing the hard labor. This was my first introduction into how hard working the Jamaican jamaicapeople are and how much pride they have for their country and culture. The drive was beautiful and I couldn’t help but marvel at everything I saw. So many fruit and vegetable stands on the side of the road, people walking to school with their kids, dogs and sheep running around and people just enjoying their lives. I had all of the various trees pointed out to me and also the beautiful birds. We were in a hurry to get to the meeting and it took over two hours to actually arrive to the center of the island for the meetings.

When I arrived at the offices of our partner, I was introduced to all of the staff and had a tour of the facilities. The most impressive feature being the classroom where they offer various development courses for all of the individuals. The office helps the residents, from 18 to 80, in professional development in order to assist them in finding employment. They have a partnership with the Katrinauniversity, as well as the government, to provide these options to encourage all to continue to improve themselves. Every single person I encountered was courteous and kind, even given the fact that they are not used to seeing someone like me (a tall, very American woman) walking around their town.

Our wonderful partner meets with all prospective au pair candidates one on one and advises them on their opportunities, how to improve their background to make them a better candidate and screening them thoroughly for accuracy in their application. All applicants are advised on what it means to be an au pair in the USA, how to work with a host family and also go through a complete First Aid/CPR training program before they leave. Now, after discussions with the offices, they will even be educating the drivers on driving in the USA to better prepare them for what it is like to drive in our country once matched with a family.

After seeing the offices, meeting the crew and seeing how the operations works, the next thing on the itinerary was to meet some of the applicants, both current and prospective, in the classroom in order to talk more about the program, what to expect, what American families are looking for and what our agency represents. All I can say about this is WOW! I was so impressed with each and every one of the applicants. They were kind and courteous and had wonderful questions for me about the program. I actually made some notes for girls that I thought would be fabulous applicants for my own family in a few months, if they are still available! The biggest questions seemed to be what the families were like, what types of things they could do with the kids, how they could be classthe best au pair, etc. Now, normally when I meet a group of prospective au pairs, the questions are “where does the family live”, “how much time will I get off”, in addition to the normal questions about the families, but I didn’t get these questions at all from this wonderful group of ladies! They really were most concerned with having the opportunity to come to the USA, take care of children and experience the life. The energy that they gave off with their excitement and smiles was contagious! I walked away from the meeting truly feeling positive that we decided to start offering candidates from Jamaica.

We finalized the meeting and then I was treated to a delicious lunch with the staff of the office who could break away from helping their candidates and chatted more about how we could continue to improve. The staff of the Mandeville office is really interested in continuing to build the program, support the candidates and make sure that they are well prepared to offer the best to our host families. Again, making me more sure that we made a great choice by chosing Jamaica as one of our source countries for applicants.

20131003_144703Well, lunch was finished and a quick pop-in the offices to say good-bye to the crew and I was back in the car for my long journey back to Montego Bay. Again, I cannot even express in words how magnificent this drive was for me. I love to travel and getting to see the country from the road was a real treat. I did not have the opportunity for any photos, as the driver was keeping time, so no side trips or pulling over to the side of the road! Back at the hotel and I couldn’t stop thinking about everyone I met and saw on my one-day trip to Mandeville and back. I feel so fortunate that I consistently get to visit new places and meet the wonderful participants of our program and partner offices and this was a trip that I would always remember. I spent the next day on the beautiful beach, snorkeling and really getting to know some of the locals who worked at and around the hotel. I loved learning more about the cultural and the people of Jamaica, what a determined and hardworking nation of people!

This posting was written by Katrina Vanderhulst, Director of International Programs for Au Pair International.

API has some amazing applicants from Jamaica currently. Please take a moment to review their profiles and consider interviewing a candidate to be your next au pair so that you can also share in the learning of the Jamaican culture, teach them about American culture AND have a reason to visit Jamaica after their program year is complete! Ya mon!

Bonus: Match with an au pair from Jamaica by the end of 2013 and save an additional $100 off of your program fees!

StaceyAnnHougarth2

Stacey-Ann H.

“I am 24, have 7300 childcare hours, and love to make people smile!”

SammiJoeHarrow1

Sammijoe H.

“I have nearly 15,000 childcare hours and know First Aid!”

AvaGayeGames1

Ava-Gaye J.

“I have 3500 childcare hours and want to be a nurse!”

CharnelleWolliston2Charnelle W.

“I am a teacher with 60,000 childcare hours and First Aid certifications!”

ShanekeRicketts2Shaneke R.

“I have 6000 childcare hours and plan to become a Pastor!”

Or check out our other au pairs from Jamaica on our website.

Host Family Questions

HF Q’s – Can I take my au pair on vacations with me?

tropical-84537_640 (1)Absolutely!  Who hasn’t been on vacation and wished that there was someone who could take the kids for a few hours?  Many families bring their au pairs along with them on vacation and have a fabulous time.  When preparing to go on vacation, please keep the following things in mind.

1) If you are requiring your au pair to accompany you need to provide for her expenses.

2) You will need to give your au pair a schedule of on and off-duty time so she can plan her free time.

3) You still need to remain within the regulations, meaning no more than 10 on-duty hours per day and 45 hours per week.

4) During vacation, you can have your au pair sleep in the same room as your children, but most au pairs are uncomfortable sleeping in the same room as the host parents.

5) Be sure to make your au pair aware of any additional hazards that she or your children might not be aware of.

6) If you are traveling outside the US, your au pair will need to get a travel verification signed by Au Pair International and she might also need a visa for the country you are visiting.

 

Do you have more vacation questions?  Feel free to ask them here or any other questions about the Au Pair Program or Au Pair International.

Learning is Fun

5 DIY Projects to Keep Your Kids Entertained

With summer vacation just around the corner, the kids will be at home–and inevitably, you’ll hear them say “I’m bored”. You’ll need some ideas to keep them happy and entertained, even on hot or rainy days. Many kids will readily get up and go outdoors if they get to make something; below are some easy and affordable projects for kids of all ages, to be done rain or shine.

DIY Lava Lamp

Flava

For this project you’ll need:

Empty water or soda bottles
Vegetable oil
Food colouring
Alka-Seltzer

Fill the bottles a little over half-full of oil, filling the remaining space with water. Leave roughly 1″ at the top. Add ten drops of any color food coloring. Break each Alka-Seltzer tablet into four pieces, and drop them into the bottles one at a time. Wait for each piece to stop bubbling before dropping the next one in, or the solution will become cloudy.

Soda Bottle Fireflies

You’ll need:

Green soda bottles, cleaned and with labels removed
Glow sticks in various colors
Pipe cleaners (for legs and antennae)
Beads or googly eyes
Cardboard or construction paper for wings
Scissors
Glue
Black paint or marker pen
Tape

This craft is ideal for dusk and after-dark play. Transform a green soda bottle into a firefly with a simple glow stick (they’re readily available at discount and dollar stores). Simply decorate the bottles with eyes and wings (don’t forget to supervise children when cutting out the wings), pop the glowstick inside the bottle, do it up and place around the house or garden. You can save the ‘fireflies’ year after year, simply adding a fresh glow stick with each use.

DIY Sidewalk Paint

If we’d had this when we were kids, our parents would have had a VERY colorful driveway indeed! This paint is very easy and fun to make. Mix up a paste of food coloring, cornstarch and water, and use an empty egg carton or old muffin tin as a palette. That’s it!

Decorating the Doors

This easy idea can be adapted to any holiday or time of year. Wrap your door in colorful paper, being sure to cut a hole for the doorknob and/or lock. Add stickers, use poster paint or markers, or tie a ribbon around the door to make it look like a big gift that you can’t wait to ‘open’! Alternatively, cover the door in white paper and let the kids use it as a ‘whiteboard’ – make sure that the paper is thick enough to avoid staining the door and that no sharp pens, such as biros, are used to avoid any scratches.

Homemade Edible Finger Paint

This idea is great for kids of every age; with ingredients you probably already have in your pantry, you can make edible finger paint. Finger_PaintingYou’ll need:

Sugar
Flour
Food coloring
Salt
Plastic cups (or baby food jars)

Image URL: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/39/Finger_Painting.jpg

Add two tablespoons of sugar to an empty saucepan. Mix in 1/3 cup of flour and stir in two cups of water, whisking until the mixture is smooth. Turn the stove on low and stir constantly until the mixture has thickened. Divide the mixture evenly among the plastic cups or baby food jars. Add in a couple of drops of food coloring (use slightly more for darker colors). Stir until completely blended, and allow to fully cool before use.

This post was written by the team at UK Oak Doors, proud retailers of internal oak doors.

Learning is Fun, Theme of the Week

Theme of the Week – Pirates

The Golden Age of Pirates was from 1560 to 1730 and many of the most famous pirates were based in the Caribbean.  The most notorious pirates lived around 1700 and include: Blackbeard (considered the most feared pirate), Calico Jack Rackham (who created the classic Jolly Roger flag with scull and crossbones), Henry Morgan and Bartholomew Roberts (both very successful pirates).

Fun Pirate Facts:

1. They Rarely Buried Treasure

2. Their Careers Didn’t Last Long

3. They Had Rules and Regulations

4. They Didn’t Walk the Plank

5. A Good Pirate Ship had Good Officers

6. The Pirates Didn’t Limit Themselves to the Caribbean

7. There Were Women Pirates

8. Piracy was better than the Alternatives

9. They came from all Social Classes

10. Not all Pirates were Criminals

Learn more about each of these facts at About.com.

Check out these and other books about Pirates at your local library.

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Pirate Crafts:

Pirate’s Hat

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Pirate Flag.

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Paper Plate Pirate

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Paper Plate Parrot

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Sunset Pirate Ship

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Pirate Masks

pirate-masks

Newspaper Pirate Hat

NewspaperPirateHat16RS6k[1]

Pirate’s Hook

pirate-hook-craft

Easy Catapult 

EasyCatapult13RS6k[1]

Pirate Activities:

How to Talk Like a Pirate

Sandpit Treasure Hunt

Online Pirate Quiz

Pirate Maze

Pirate Song

Pirate Poem

Pirate Snacks:

Pirate Ship Cheese and Apples

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Treasure Map Quesadilla 

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Pirate Sandwich

piratebento[1]

Jolly Roger Sandwich

PirateLunchW[1]

Additional Lesson Plans:

Teachers.net

WorldHistory.org

YahooVoices.com

Au Pair International puts together weekly learning crafts and activities called Theme of the Week to help au pairs and host parents with ideas about educational and fun activities to do with their kids.  Want to learn more about au pairs?  Check out au pair profiles on our website.

Learning is Fun, Theme of the Week

Theme of the Week – Jellyfish

Jellyfish are beautiful marine creatures that can be found in oceans all over the world, even near Antarctica.  They can be found at the surface of the water or down deep in the sea.  They are very simple organisms that have an umbrella-shaped top and tentacles that trail below.  Jellyfish use their tentacles like a net to find food.  Their tentacles also are a great defense mechanism since they carry venom that is shot into a predator, temporarily paralyzing it and allowing the jellyfish to escape.

Did you know…

… some jellyfish are bigger than a human and others are as small as a pinhead?
… people in some countries eat jellyfish?
… that jellyfish have been on Earth for millions of years, even before dinosaurs?
… jellyfish have no brain but some kinds have eyes?
… that jellyfish are mainly made up of water and protein?
… a group of jellyfish is called a smack? (http://www.jellywatch.org/blooms/facts)

Want to learn more about jellyfish?  Check out these websites:

http://twistedsifter.com/2009/06/10-amazing-facts-about-jellyfish/

http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/kids/animals/creaturefeature/jellyfish/

http://www.jellyfishfacts.net/

Jellyfish Activities:

Make your own jellyfish lights.

make-your-own-jellyfish-lights

Check out this amazing jellyfish in a bottle.

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Create a fun jellyfish umbrella.

l in jellyfish

These are beautiful ribbon jellyfish.

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These jellyfish are easy for kids of any age.

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Pretend with this no-sew jellyfish costume.

jellyfish-costume

Make glow-in-the-dark jellyfish.

jellyfish 8

Jellyfish Song and Video:

The Jellyfish Song

Jellyfish Poem:

The Lost Jellyfish

Jellyfish Snacks:

Jello Jellyfish

jello jellyfish

Hot Dogs Jellyfish

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Jellyfish Sandwiches

JELLYFISH-SANDWICH

Jellyfish Lesson Plans:

Westfield

Bright Hub Education

Suite 101

Books about Jellyfish:  Go visit your local library to find these and other books about jellyfish.

book4 book1 book2 book3

 

 

 

Theme of the Week:  Au Pair International developed the Theme of the Week to give au pairs different ideas of things to do with the kids they take care of.  If you are interested in learning more about the Au Pair Program, contact Au Pair International.

Au Pair Advice, Host Family Questions

6 Traits of an Amazing Au Pair

Having worked with host families and au pairs for over 5 years, I have had many opportunities to see wonderful matches where the host family and au pair end up truly caring for each other like family, and I have also seen matches that haven’t been as wonderful.  While each match is unique with its own set of pros and cons, there are some common au pair traits that seem to help ensure success.

An interest in children:  I know that it has been said that you don’t need a burning love for children in order to be an au pair, but you do need a general interest in them.  Potential au pairs whose main concern is what there is to do in the area and how much time they will get off generally don’t get chosen to be the au pair.  Families want to know that their au pair has a genuine interest in children and their well-being.  Let’s face it; most au pairs are alone, in the house, with the children, all day long.  If the sound of a child’s voice grates on your nerves like nails on a chalkboard, then this probably isn’t the right path for you.

This goes for after arrival, too.  If an au pair acts interested in the children and their activities when communicating with them before she arrives, but then doesn’t have time for them once she arrives, the family feels deceived  and wonders what else the au pair has misled them about.

Truly successful au pairs are the ones who take their job seriously and are invested in the children.  They get down on the floor and play trucks, they have tea parties, and they read the kids the same book over and over and over again.  In a nutshell, truly successful au pairs are the ones who do the things with the children that the parents would do if they could be home.

Patience: Anyone who thinks that working with children all day is easy, hasn’t ever done it.  It takes patience for crying, sticky fingers, messes, crying, toys everywhere, homework battles… oh and crying.  Au pairs need to be prepared that most days will be pretty good, but some days will be very hard.  Patience on the hard days will be rewarded when the children put their arms around you and tell you how much they love you.

Flexibility: There are certain rules put in place to protect the au pair and host family.  It is very important that those rules are followed, but there also needs to be some flexibility.  Sometimes schedules change.  Sometimes parents are late.  Illnesses happen and life is sometimes just crazy.  If an occasional bending or breaking of a rule happens, then you need to talk to your host family about it in a casual way.  If your host family repeatedly disregards the rules, then that is another issue entirely and should be discussed with your agency.

Interest in the family: Most families really want their au pair to be a part of the family.  If the au pair is distant or spends little of her off-duty time with the family, the family feels that she only matched with them to get to come to a new country and not because she wanted to participate in a cultural exchange program.  I worked with an au pair once who would go up to her room as soon as her shift was over, and wouldn’t come out for the rest of the evening.  The family would ask her if she was hungry for dinner or wanted to do activities and she would decline and then sneak down after everyone was in bed and go find something to eat.  Needless to say, this match didn’t work out.

The best matches are the ones where everyone really cares for each other.  This is demonstrated when the host family invites the au pair along to different activities or does extra things to help her feel at home, like introducing her customs into their household.  I once had a host family who had a traditional German Christmas for their au pair.  This helped her feel loved and accepted.

Au pairs show their appreciation by pitching in and helping when it isn’t required.  Just because you aren’t on duty doesn’t mean you can’t help with the dishes or play with the kids or attend a child’s recital.   Now this doesn’t mean that au pairs should spend all their free time with the family.  It is important for them to get out, explore, and meet people.  It is very important to find the balance between the two.

Initiative:  Families don’t want to have to tell au pairs to do every little thing.  If the baby needs changing, the families want the au pair to go change him.  If the kids have homework to do, the au pair should make sure that happens on time.  If the kids are bored, the family wants the au pair to come up with activities to do.  You are in charge during certain hours of the day, so take charge.  Make sure the children are well-cared for and engaged and if you are off-duty still be attentive to the children’s needs, like you would as a member of the family.

Maturity:  There is a reason that au pairs must be at least 18 years old.  Families are not looking to bring another child into their home; they are looking for an adult to help make their lives easier.  Successful au pairs are the ones who take responsibility for their needs and happiness.  If you have a problem, don’t expect your family to solve it for you.  First, you will need to research your options (the internet, your agency and fellow au pairs are good resources for this), come up with some possible solutions, and then go to your host family and discuss with them what will work best.  They are there to help you, but not solve your problems for you.

Now, I know I have just focused on what qualities are important for an au pair.  There are just as many qualities that are important for host families to have, the most important being dependability, compassion, appreciation, and trust.  In my experience, matches that have these qualities are amazing experiences for everyone involved and result in life-long friendships.